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REDEVELOPMENT OF SHOPPING CENTER 'THE MINT'

Cushman & Wakefield Belgium advises on commercial configuration of the redeveloped shopping center The Mint

The outdated shopping center at Place de la Monnaie was in desperate need of revitalization. AG Real Estate decided to redevelop the building and knocked on Cushman & Wakefield Belgium’s door for strategic advice on the commercial approach.

During the project, AG Real Estate and Cushman & Wakefield were faced with several commercial challenges but the new and redeveloped The Mint now responds to the retail demand of today offering an interesting commercial mix. The redevelopment project contributes to the revival of Brussels city center and nowadays forms a link between Rue Neuve and Grand-Place.

OUTDATED SHOPPING CENTRE REDEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITY

Only a few years ago, downtown Brussels had a shopping center that was regarded as very outdated.

The old building had a traditional cross of walkways traversing the center of the shopping, forming a rather closed unit.

The building also lacked connectivity with the city center. The Mint has long been a ‘dead’ point because it did not link the tourist part of Brussels, with Rue Neuve and Grand-Place: a missed opportunity according to AG Real Estate.

In addition, the original shopping center didn’t live up to contemporary retail & consumer demand. Many retailers were looking for a strategic location in the city center, but couldn’t find a building that met their needs.

THE MINT AS THE MISSING LINK IN DOWNTOWN BRUSSELS

The shopping center The Mint is one of the projects that contribute to the revitalization of the city center. All those projects, including The Mint, have one common goal: creating unity between the different city districts.

Prior to the existence of The Mint, downtown Brussels offered two focal points: Grand-Place on one side and Rue Neuve on the other. Nevertheless, the link between these two parts was missing. AG Real Estate envisioned The Mint occupying this key position. To achieve this, the company solicited the advice of several experts, among which Cushman & Wakefield Belgium.

Another top priority of the redevelopment project was to enhance connectivity between The Mint and surrounding streets like Rue Neuve, Rue des Fripiers and Boulevard Anspach. Ultimately, creating easy access to De Brouckère metro – the busiest metro station in Brussels – was equally important.

MEETING TODAY’S RETAIL AND CONSUMER DEMANDS

Based upon the advice of partners as Cushman & Wakefield, AG Real Estate decided which commercial configuration of the building would best match today’s retail market demands. They considered different options like a shopping center, department store and high street stores AG Real Estate (re)defined the configuration of The Mint as it is today.  

Nowadays retailers’ demands vary wildly: some retailers are looking for small commercial spaces, others for larger floor spaces. Visibility is also extremely important for retailers. To increase the attractiveness for a shopper, AG Real Estate chose to expand the shop windows all around the building up to a height of 8 meters!

Along with the retailers’ demands, the The Mint team also had to take into account consumer demands. Since The Mint sits at the crossroads between the tourist neighborhood, the shopping neighborhood (around Rue Neuve) and living & work neighborhoods, the shopping center attracts a heterogeneous audience. This diversity of shoppers requires a diverse and optimal commercial mix.

TEAMWORK OVERCAME TOUGH CHALLENGES

Throughout the redevelopment project, the team has faced various challenges. Firstly, retailers projected the connotations with the previous shopping center onto the redeveloped The Mint. The existing shopping center wasn’t attractive to retailers and consumers, and they were afraid the redeveloped shopping center wouldn’t be able to solve this problem. AG Real Estate and its partners worked out a sound communication plan that allowed them to assure the retailers of the various opportunities of the new shopping center.

Secondly, the project proved a technical & operational challenge. The Mint is, technically, a very complex building. In addition, AG Real Estate had to take into account the offices located above the existing shopping center. Last, AG Real Estate joined forces with Ville de Bruxelles and involved the city in the project. They worked closely together during the construction of the pedestrian zone, right next to The Mint. It was a challenge to accommodate everyone’s needs, but a smart strategy and its excellent execution made it a success.

STRONG STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP AG REAL ESTATE AND CUSHMAN & WAKEFIELD

The successful redevelopment of The Mint is the result of a solid partnership between AG Real Estate and Cushman & Wakefield Belgium. Sam Perneel, Head of Asset Management Retail AG Real Estate, reveals the secret ingredient of this strong partnership:

“Good interaction and transparent communication have played a big role in the success of this partnership. Cushman & Wakefield Belgium’s expertise in the retail market and its profound knowledge of the supply and demand dynamics have made them a valuable member of the The Mint team. Their vast network of national and international players has really made the difference.”

Sam Perneel, Head of Asset Management Retail AG Real Estate

Victoria Tanret, Senior Account Manager Retail at Cushman & Wakefield Belgium, is happy with the end result: “Together with AG Real Estate and other partners, we were able to attract a good mix of retailers for the rent of the different units in The Mint. As a team, we succeeded in signing various retail players who were searching for a strategic and suitable location to develop and accommodate their new concepts. Think about Uniqlo with its first shop in Brussels, Decathlon and its new city concept, the first shop of Kiabi in the Brussels city center, etc.”

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